The Minnesota Historical Society has awarded a Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage Grant to the Polish American Medical Society of Minnesota for the Kalejdoskop Project that seeks to illuminate the experiences of Solidarnosc/ Solidarity refugees in Minnesota. The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council has approved an Arts Project Support grant to our organization for this project.
Kalejdoskop Polski, Minnesota Project aims to capture and preserve the history of Polish-American experiences and contributions to Minnesota. In our vision, this is a five-phase project, with each of the five phases collecting oral histories and photographic portraits from Polish-American Minnesotans from different eras of immigration. We believe that Kalejdoskop Polski, MN,” should deliver a strong visual message.
The first phase of the Kalejdoskop project will focus on the Solidarity political refugees. In the 1980s, Poland's Solidarity movement became one of Europe’s most notable social movements, playing a significant role in ending communist rule in Poland and significantly influencing Eastern Europe's freedom movements. As a consequence of participating in this movement, many individuals experienced terrible repression, including imprisonment by the state. Some of these individuals moved to Minnesota as political refugees.
With over 240,000 Polish-American Minnesotans in the state (State Demographic Data, 2015), but only four oral histories documenting this community in the MNHS archives, this project responds to a need that has been raised by the community.